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Must not be opened: "witch's bottles" are massively washing ashore in the United States

Alina MilsentNews
A bottle on the coast. Illustrative image

Strange things are happening on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. "Witch's bottles" have been found on Texas beaches in the United States. According to ancient beliefs, they should not be opened in order not to bring bad luck, but of course, there is a more rational explanation for this prohibition.

Researchers say that "witch's bottles" were a popular practice in the 16th and 17th centuries. Details about the ominous "messages from the past" were reported by Ifl Science.

"Witch's bottles have a long history. They are examples of an ancient form of domestic folk magic. According to one version, the rituals were performed to prevent curses or reverse spells and enchantments. This fact, however, has nothing to do with the warnings against opening them-although supporters of superstition say that it breaks the spell's effect.

The reason for the categorical prohibition of opening is more mundane - the findings can be physically dangerous.

The bottles contain a variety of items, including iron pins, needles, rusty nails, human hair, and urine. The last ingredient was usually provided by the person seeking protection.

"Witch's bottles" were a real hit in the 16th and 17th centuries. They were in great demand and popular. To understand their appeal, one should first of all consider the worldview of people living in that era. Any bad luck, sudden illness, or accident could be seen as the result of malicious witchcraft, so people needed a way to protect themselves and fight back against evil spirits.

The Christian church advised simply to pray, but folk traditions based on ancient beliefs and worship of the forces of nature offered a variety of rituals to suit every taste. For example, if a person was struck with a sudden illness, it was considered a witch's spell. Bottles became a "counter-spell"-they not only protected the "victim" but also caused suffering to the enemies.

 

Must not be opened: ''witch's bottles'' are massively washing ashore in the United States

In the UK, hundreds of such "amulets" have been found in the walls of old buildings and castles. But the bottles that appear along the Gulf of Mexico coast are much more modern and may originate from the Caribbean and South America, according to research by the Harte Research Institute of Mexico Gulf.

"I found about eight of these bottles and haven't opened any. I have five of them on the fence in my backyard because my wife won't let me bring them inside," Jace Tunnell, director of public engagement at the Harte Research Institute, told McClatchy News.

"I don't believe they originated in the U.S., although I can't be 100 percent sure because there are no records or indications. However, because of ocean currents, we do find items that are washed up from all over the world," Tannell added. So far, most of the bottles Tannell has found contain sticks and herbs.

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